The Temporomandibular Joint and its Functions
Understanding TMJ disorder begins with understanding the anatomy of the mouth. The temporomandibular (TMJ) joint is located just underneath the ears where the lower jaw (mandible) is connected to the skull. The joint is responsible for all mouth movement during speaking and eating and is surrounded by facial muscles and ligaments. A healthy TMJ allows a patient to eat comfortably and open his or her mouth with ease.
Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction
When the TMJ dysfunctions, it can will produce a number of symptoms that can cause pain and discomfort. Beyond common symptoms like a clicking or popping sound when opening the mouth, patients will likely experience facial pain or soreness near the jaw. Unnecessary tooth wear—especially along the molars—often accompanies TMJ dysfunction. This is because misaligned jaws or a malocclusion causes the teeth to scrape and grind against one another too frequently. Those with TMJ disorder typically require restorations such as crown to reestablish their bite. In severe cases, TMJ dysfunction can cause the jaw to “lock” in place for small amounts of time and impair one’s ability to open or close the mouth.
Solutions and Treatment for TMJ Disorder
The scope of treatment for this oral health condition largely depends on its underlying cause. For example, if misaligned teeth cause TMJ dysfunction, orthodontics and restorative care can improve symptoms. If the cause of TMJ disorder is due to abnormalities in the jaw and/or the temporomandibular joints, oral surgery may be necessary to reduce discomfort and improve oral health. Our team can help assess how best to treat the cause and subsequent symptoms of your TMJ disorder.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact the office of Drs. Richard Miller and Ross Sethman at your convenience.